We have a new downstairs neighbor. Well, actually, we’re his new upstairs neighbors. Chester. Chester has lived in our building for almost twenty years. Chester is a cab driver in San Francisco, who is almost always at the lovely across the street bar for happy hour. Chester has excellent taste in classic jazz. How do I know that? Because our building used to be sort of a tenement, with all the cheap flimsy materials and thin walls and floors that goes with that. What our building has going for it is location – the neighborhood that used to be under an overpass and next to the projects is now super bougie, central to everything, trendy, and full of overpriced clothing stores. The overpass came down, the city cleaned up, the prices went up and now for what would get us a whole house in another state we get the top floor of a shabbily constructed apartment building.

Let me put it this way. I can hear our across the stairway neighbors watch TV. I can hear phone calls and trips to the bathroom in the building next to us, with which we share a wall. So when I started hearing jazz come from downstairs, I was actually pretty thrilled. I love good jazz, especially classic vocal jazz, the stuff that Chester seems to have a stellar collection of. And Chester, well, he’s extremely nice. Charming in a shy kind of a way. Listens to great jazz at extremely reasonable times of day, like between 7:30 and 9 in the evening, on weekends. And for extremely reasonable durations, too. One album, maybe two at a time. I have no problem with this, it’s actually almost nice. Unless I happen to be trying to write, or translate, or read, or… There’s something so distracting about music you have no control over. I have the same problem in some cafés, and I’ll pick places to go to based on their musical selection.

Anyway, this evening when the jazz came on, Matt and I talked about how nice it was that he had good taste in music, and imagined things that might be worse:

1. Reggae. It’s all the same g-d song.

2. Thrash metal. It sort of speaks for itself.

3. Hot country. “Is this actually what you like listening to?”

4. Ozzy Osborne. Not Black Sabbath. All Ozzy, all the time.

5. Neil Young. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Any of them, in any combination.